SHAMOKIN DAM — Business Owner Mike Molesevich, a former Congressional nominee, Lewisburg mayor and borough council member, can now officially add photographer to his list of achievements.
An exhibit of Molesevich’s photos taken mostly in the 1970s and 1980s in the anthracite region is on display during office hours through the end of the month at Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce, 2850 N. Susquehanna Trial, Shamokin Dam. His work will also be on display during the Lewisburg Arts Council’s Stroll Through the Arts on Friday, Nov. 1 and from Saturday, Nov. 16 to Friday, Nov. 22 at the Packwood House, 15 N. Water St., Lewisburg.
Coal region images from the Shamokin area, his hometown of Mount Carmel and the infamous burning Borough of Centralia are featured. There are also images of Lewisburg made after he moved to Union County in 1979. Each is framed and either on the wall or on display tables at GSVCC offices.
Molesevich was attending Juniata College when he got his first camera and began taking photos during breaks from school. Returning to the Coal Region at that time made finding subjects relatively easy.
“I’d go home to Mount Carmel, Shamokin (or) Centralia and the black-and-white subject matter was just incredible,” Molesevich said. “And I had the time when I was home from college. I didn’t want to just sit around doing nothing. I would go out and take photographs.”
Molesevich did not do his own darkroom work and put most of the negatives and small prints in a shoe box after they were returned from a lab. He said he was seeing his images blown up as museum-quality prints for the first time. One frame of a colliery taken from a distance had a tiny figure of a jogger running along tracks which he had never noticed previously.
The new black-and-white prints from original negatives were scanned and processed by Hoyer’s Photo Shop of Williamsport.
As it turned out, Molesevich captured a bit of history when he made photos of buildings, coal facilities and other artifacts of that era.
“These things don’t exist anymore,” Molesevich said. “Whether it is the Shamokin Glen Burn Colliery, the Locust Summit Coal Breaker, which was between Centralia and Ashland. At one point it was the largest anthracite coal breaker in the world. It employed hundreds.”
Some of his subjects, such as the Glen Burn Colliery, were razed shortly after the photos were made. Molesevich noted that the collieries were like processing plants where coal from mines was broken into usable pieces.
Molesevich has enjoyed a 40-year career in the environmental field, perhaps even remediating the effects of the very mines he photographed.
“If you want to put a theme on my photography, it is industrial photography” he added. “Why (for) and environmental guy? It is where the work is.”
Color images of more recent environmental projects are also part of the show.